Rummanah Aasi
  There are a plethora of books written about World War II and much of them tell the same exact story. Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire takes a look into the female soldiers of World War II and brings their stories to life by focusing on friendship, loyalty, and defining what it means to be brave.

Description: Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.
 When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
  As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
Review: Code Name Verity is historical fiction at its best from a seemingly unreliable narrator, a strong friendship and wonderful historical detail at its core. When the story begins, Julia is an unnamed prisoner, who is formerly a wireless operator for the British and held captive in France by a seemingly sadistic Nazi interrogator. In exchange for small bits of freedom, she "sold her soul" and is giving pieces of code in exchange for her life. While most readers can predict the outcome of Julia, we do have flickers of hope that she will be freed as we see small glimpses of humanity of her enemies.
  Wein excels in making a war story feel human. Interspersed with the story of Julia's fierce fight for survival is a different tale: that of how she came to be in France and of her friendship with Maddie Brodatt, a British civilian pilot. The friendship between these two women are unlikely as they are from two different social classes and it happens very quickly. As Julia tells their story, she also reveals small bits of her attempts at survival and escape. In the second half of the book, Maddie narrates, telling of her desperate attempts to rescue her friend and revealing both the truth of what happened to each of them, and the truth of Julia's bravery.
 Code Name Verity is a hard book to review in that I personally liked it and can appreciate the complex layers of the story and its characters, however, I didn't love it. The military jargon and the abrupt insertion of the author's voice made me lose my focus and concentration of the book and distanced myself emotionally. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I didn't cry at all while reading this book when I know others have. Perhaps I should have tried listening this one on audiobook instead of reading it and my opinions might have changed. Nonetheless I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction and especially learning about World War II. I think it would make a wonderful bookclub book and discussion.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Scenes of torture, war violence, and language. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, Daniel half human by David Chotjewitz, Soldier X by Don Wulffson,

Description: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her?

Review: Rose Under Fire is a companion to Code Name Verity and could easily be read as a standalone. Our protagonist this time is an American female pilot named Rose Justice, who ferries Allied planes from England to Paris. The first quarter of the book, which begins in 1944, describes Rose’s work, both its dangers and its highs. We also get to meet characters from Code Name Verity, especially the fiery Maddie. Unlike the other soldiers who know first hand how horrific war is, Rosie is very naive and idealistic. Her perspective and her flowery descriptions change drastically when she is captured and quickly shipped off to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp in Northern Germany. The horror of the camp, with its medical experimentation on Polish women who called themselves rabbits is ably captured and gut wrenching. Yet, along with the misery, Wein also reveals the humanity that can surface, even in the worst of circumstances. Unlike some readers, I didn't have a problem with the diary format though it does get a bit clunky in places. I thought this one was much more introspective and personal than Code Name Verity because we are only following Rose. I also appreciated the fact that Rose isn't a perfect character but frail and may not always do the right thing in dire situations. Though the tension is different than in Code Name Verity, it is still palpable and highly readable.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Torture scenes, strong war violence, and some language. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, Flygirl by Sherri Smith
9 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    "Yet, along with the misery, Wein also reveals the humanity that can surface, even in the worst of circumstances."

    That makes me a little less nervous about picking these two books up Rummanah! I don't mind dark books, and both of these clearly capture the horrors of war, but I need something in there somewhere to give me a little hope or I get weighed down too heavily. Glad you enjoyed these despite the few flaws you mentioned, I can't wait to give them a try!

  2. I loved both books but Code Name Verity was the most special of the two for me. That's mostly because it was so stylistically different than other books I've read. Rose Under Fire was good as well, but it was your standard well written book whilst CNV went somewhere different.

  3. These do look like great ways to really bring this time period to life. Not sure if that is a good thing with all the devastation, but it would make you care. I don't think I would have loved it either, but I think that is because of the dark theme. Great reviews.

  4. I had a really hard time with Verity. I just couldn't get into it -- I certainly didn't cry -- I have to start and stop a couple of times to get through it. It just didn't flow for me. But, Rose -- I absolutely loved. Crazy...

  5. This genre is just not my thing. I am so glad you read it, but I am sorry you got pushed out of Code Name Verity by the author's voice. That stinks. I didn't know the 2nd book was a companion novel. Good to know. I won't read either of them :) Great reviews!!

  6. Aylee Says:

    The military jargon did tend to get in the way at times, I agree. I still have to read Rose Under Fire, but I'm interested in your comparison of the two. Now I'm thinking I might like Rose Under Fire even more than Code Name Verity!

  7. Candace Says:

    I tried to read Code Name Verity when it came out and I just couldn't get into it. I know a lot of people have REALLY loved it so I figure I maybe didn't give it enough time. I'm kind of just thinking these might not be for me though. I'm glad you enjoyed!

  8. I've only heard positive things about both books and can't believe I still haven't read them! I'm making it my goal to read at least Code Name Verity by March break!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I was one of the ones who cried during Code Name Verity, but I totally understand having a bit of distance from Maddie and Julie, and that taking you out of the story somewhat. I agree, Rose Under Fire had a more personal, introspective feel. I felt more horror when reading it, especially the parts about the rabbits. Wonderful reviews!

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